Olympic weightlifting sounds like a grand, scary thing, doesn’t it? Right here, right now, you probably have many misconceptions of it because of what you have heard from the media or the people around you. Lifting is heavily discouraged by parents and doctors for different reasons; and people have talked about it being unsafe. We’re here to debunk a few of these myths about olympic weightlifting.

Myth #1: Weightlifting Won’t Keep You Lean

Some weightlifters are wider around the waist. Others have bigger quads. Some lifters themselves insist these are marks of strength — and they often are. However, there are also countless lifters who are incredibly lean and compact; and weightlifting has proven to be an effective method for reducing body fat. The more muscle you have, the more there is to burn the fat on your body. Given this, weightlifters aren’t slow, either!

Too much food or the wrong kind of food can increase body fat — not lifting.

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Myth #2: Mass Moves Mass

It’s a common rule of thumb, albeit an unwarranted one. While many people believe weightlifting will make you “fat,” others believe that lifting is a good excuse to become overweight, because “mass moves mass.” This is not the case. Only those in the super heavyweight categories show an excess amount of body fat. This is because they have more room to gain weight, and as long as their mobility, technique and speed aren’t affected, it doesn’t matter. Fat, however, does not help in weightlifting.

Myth #3: It’s a Man’s Sport

And in line with this is the belief that men are stronger than women. Male and female muscle is no different. A muscle cell is a muscle cell. However, it cannot be denied that men are indeed stronger than women. This is why they don’t compete against each other.

There are various reasons why. Women are, by average, at least five inches shorter than men. Women also have a lesser amount of muscle fibers. This makes them lighter, and therefore less capable of carrying heavier weights, than men. Women tend to have narrower shoulders, taking off points for upper body strength. Finally, women produce less testosterone, meaning they can’t build the same amount of muscle as men. This isn’t due to a lack of skill or hard work; it’s biology.

Does that mean women shouldn’t lift? Absolutely not. Female lifters are just as competitive and skilled in their own division, and they benefit the same from lifting as men do.

Myth #4: Weightlifting Will Stunt Your Growth

Most weightlifters are short because they were short in the first place. This is especially true in the case of lifters in the lightweight division. There has been no proof that lifting heavy weights causes people to stop growing taller. However, being shorter is in some way advantageous for lifters.

Myth #5: Weightlifting is a Second-Class Skill

Because many of us became familiar with weightlifting through CrossFit, many believe it comes second to CrossFit; but they are two different sports and should be treated as such. Olympic weightlifting is a factor of CrossFit — this is true. However, comparing two sports parallel to each other is never a fair conversation.

Olympic weightlifting is a sport that many people are still unfamiliar with. With proper education, however, it’s easy to disprove these common misconceptions. As long as you have a good understanding of what Olympic lifting is and what it is for, you have the opportunity to reap the benefits.